Your Avtomat Kalashnikova and you. (Part 2)
This use to be part Yugoslavia back in my younger years, but one thing didn't change, Zastava still makes one heck of an AK.
The N-PAP and O-PAP , 1mm and 1.5mm thick receivers respectively and are based on the Zastava M70. The Gen 2 has a double stack bolt and side rail. The Gen 1 has a useless rail mounted to the dust cover and single stack bolt.
(Sigle left/double right)
There is a surefire way to tell the difference from a Yugo AK and any other, the 3-slot handguard. Most AKs have the standard 2-slot. Another thing you will notice is the N-PAP comes with a slot on the safety. Yup, that's a bolt hold open. From my experience here are the other major differences. Say you want to install a recoil buffer, no go, if you want to use the bolt hold open feature. Even the standard Tapco retaining plate has to be modified to work.
I have had better success with this upgrade using the one from Krebs custom:
I usually don't change these out on any AK, no matter the country, unless I'm having issues with the trigger and hammer pin backing out constantly on me.
The rails on these do sit a bit high so your side mounts will of course sit way over the dust cover, making optics a bit of a challenge. The Midwest industries side mount fixes this problem and gets it closer to the dust cover.
There are reports of these having "softer" metal. You can really notice this on the bolt carrier if you have that problem.
These are problems you are used to seeing on a certain American made AK. Not going to mention any names...
One good thing about this, you can usually change out the carrier to a good milsurp one and use the same bolt. This way you don't have to worry about head space issues.
Lastly, Zastava make a heavy AK. The original ak47, milled, weighed in at 8.6 lbs. The Zastava N-PAP comes in around 7.8 lbs. Whereas a standard AKM comes in around 6.8 lbs.
Otherwise the PAP series is a great entry level AK along the lines of the WASR. It will not disappoint.
Aftermarket parts are hit or miss. Some work and some don't without tweaking. If you have any questions on things shoot me an email, I most likely have tried it...
Three letters are all you need to know on this one, DDI, as far as mass produced. There are others like Century and IO also. Century, its hit or miss but they are definitely better than IO which isn't saying much. I am also holding out hope for the PSA AK but that will have to be in an update if I ever get one.
DDI or Destructive Devices Industries make one of the nicest AK's you can get. During my research when I purchased mine they were using Hungarian parts kits and inserting 922r parts including a US made receiver. The barrels are from Green Mountain but are not chrome lined. DDI uses a process called Fenocite. The Fenocite process is applied to the barreled receiver, dust cover, gas tube, bolt, bolt carrier, cleaning rod, axis pins, rear sight assembly, rear portion of the spring guide, and safety lever. This process leaves all treated parts at a 65-70 Rc hardness, lengthening the service of the rifle. They come in many configurations and will accept most standard AKM parts. The quality is there. You don't have to worry about bad rivets, crooked sights and cast parts. These will give you years of enjoyment.
There are other custom manufacturers in the great US of A but they will cost you a pretty penny.
If Polish AKs are the Cadillac, these are the Lexus Arsenal. The finest made AK and only second to the Russian version because, well, it's not Russian. The craftsmanship is outstanding and the parts used will most likely outlast you. Chrome lined CHF barrels and top notch components make this the most expensive mass produced AK you can purchase. This is a standard AKM through and through. If there are some bad things to mention, these are it. The finish is so-so, which is bad for the price tag these carry. They are known to bubble and flake. Also from time to time you may get a bad trigger, also unacceptable but nothing a new Tapco trigger can't fix. This is the only thing I hate, for the price these go for the problems above should be non-existent.
This is why I went the ISD Bulgarian AK route. Same great quality parts, but to me better fit and finish. These were made by ISD Bulgaria from Arsenal de-milled milled type 3 AKMs. The earlier models were made with Armory USA, now defunct, 1.6 mm receivers. After they were built they were sent to Armory USA and made 922r compliant. When Armory USA closed up shop TGI took over importation and modification in the states. While still a great AKM the quality did dip a little. Biggest plus, doesn't have the Arsenal price tag. The biggest minus is they are hard to find... but worth the search.
What can I say, these are the pinnacle. I think they're reputation speaks for itself. These are going to be harder and harder to find with the import ban so get them while you can. Saiga will most likely be what you're going to find, and a sporter to boot. These can be converted to a traditional AK rather easily though. You can also buy these pre-converted, still NIB, but those are getting harder to find. You could get a pre-AWB Russian AKM but be prepared to spend in the 5K range.
Another route would be to go Molot VEPR. The Molot plant is famous for making the RPK. This is the reasoning behind the Molot Vepr having a 1.6mm receiver; they are made from RPK parts. This is the route I took.
As with the SAIGA and VEPR the ones you would find here are in a "sporter" configuration. Conversion will cost on average of $200-300 but worth it. Just recently Molot announced that they are going to import an AKM, how you ask? Well MOLOT was never acquired by Kalashnikov Concern prior to the Russian import ban. They can still import and have finally decided to bring in an AKM, imported by K-Var.
Of course they announce this after I purchased a sporter... but it's ok. Mine has gone from looking like this:
While it will cost me just as much in the long run, it will be assembled/modified by me and it will hold a special place in my collection.
Now while the Molot variety is a true Russian AK there are some differences from a standard AKM. Mainly the bolt and Piston, these parts do not share from a standard AKM to a Molot or vice versa. The furniture, if converting from a sporter model, will also be a challenge to make work. Specific triggers are needed to replace the Molot trigger for 922R compliance; you can't just drop in a Tapco without modification. Finally, AK magazines also will not work. They use proprietary magazines that are a bit pricey. It can be modified to work with a file and a bullet guide installed though so no big deal. Now remember if you are going to do this, change out the trigger group (3 parts) and a US magazine (3 parts) for 922R compliance at the very least. You can also swap out other parts like US made furniture.
Everything that must be done for the Molot must also be done for the Saiga, if converting a sporter model. If you don't feel like going through all of that just buy a pre converted one from K-Var.
Well, that's all I have for now and I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I had writing it. If there are any additions that anyone may have or omissions on my part, please let me know. Until next time, get out and shoot!!